by Matthew Harris on June 9, 2006 in Gadgets
There are dozens of USB to IDE or SATA external drive enclosures on the market today. We take a look at a device that does SATA and IDE to USB conversion without an enclosure, the perfect piece of hardware for doing bench top drive testing…or is it?
Today we’re looking at the Brando USB to SATA/IDE converter. If you’re testing an unknown drive you have to either use a removable drive rack or an external drive enclosure to run the drive without ripping your PC apart. Either way is really a pain in the neck since you’re either losing a 5.25″ bay or you have to tear the enclosure apart every time you want to swap a drive into it. Not only that but either method usually requires a specific interface for the drive, not many support both types. The Brando offering is different. It’s basically a USB cable terminated with 2.5″ IDE, 3.5″ IDE and a SATA port. They thoughtfully include a mini power brick to power your drives. The brick comes with a standard IDE Molex and they include a SATA power adaptor for SATA drives that don’t feature Molex connections.
Also included is a SATA cable, Win9X driver mini CD, power cable for the power brick (along with worldwide cables, not pictured) and instruction sheet. The idea is simple, you hook the converter to the drive of choice, hook the power brick to the drive, supply power to the brick and plug it into an open USB port.
For testing purposes I used my storage SATA drive, a WD1600JD. Since it’s already mounted in my drive gondola I just hooked the SATA cable to the converter and ran the tests.
A very nice touch is the inclusion of an internal LED in the body of the converter that glows through the shell during accesses.
This image is simply to illustrate how the converter works with an IDE drive, for some reason the converter did not work with the drive pictured even though the drive was functioning normally when I pulled it from my rig. Since the documentation is so sparse I don’t know if the Brando converter works with CD Drives or if it was a case of a faulty unit, Brando’s site claims that id does work with CD drives so I’m leaning towards it being a faulty unit.